Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review: Downed by Jen Frederick

Title: Downed
Series: Gridiron #3
Author: Jen Frederick
Release date: December 1, 2016
Cliffhanger: No
Rating: 4.5 stars


He’s the guy no one likes…

Despite winning two national championships, JR “Ace” Anderson was sent packing from his old school after losing the trust of his coach. At Southern U, he has a second chance to prove that his college legacy isn’t endless debauchery and selfishness. But his reputation precedes him, and his teammates offer a chilly welcome in the locker room. The one person who is willing to accept him is the very woman he should stay away from—his new coach’s daughter.

She’s the girl everyone loves…

Bryant Johnson’s only goal in life is to make others happy, even at her own expense. One look at her father’s new star quarterback, and she knows that Ace is her next project. With a reputation for being a “jerk whisperer”, Bryant has spent her last three years at college reforming sorry behavior and turning bad boys into the best boyfriends ever. In Ace, though, she’s met with surly resistance and a sizzling attraction she doesn’t expect. Fixing this wounded warrior will be her biggest challenge yet. Not falling for him will be even harder.

Between her big heart and his damaged one, a battle is ensuing. In this game of love, every defense will crumble.

Well, well, well. Jen Frederick has made a believer out of me. If ever there was a character who was ripe for readers to hate, it was JR "Ace" Anderson. Lucy's childhood best friend is an all-around asshole and traitorous douche. He was a major user of women, and he stabbed Lucy in the back. Not to mention, he's not the most pleasant person. In fact, he's downright cold and selfish. At least, that was the consensus in the past. Could he be redeemed? The answer: absolutely, and with flying colors.

This is most definitely an opposites attract NA romance. These two are the epitome of wrong for each other in every way. She's bubbly, outgoing, and popular. He's a social pariah, angry, and rude. But when you think about what drives their personalities they have more in common than you would originally think. He has major "daddy issues", on one hand despising him and the other hand struggling not to follow in his parent's footsteps.

As much as she seems to have it all together, Bryant is also influenced by a family member. Her fear of getting hurt and taking her sister's tragic path pushes her to hold men at a distance and not allow them access to her heart. And she puts on a veneer of happiness and zen when in actuality she is still locked in memories of the past. Memories of what caused her sister's destruction.

I’ve laughed when I haven’t felt like laughing. My parents need to know I’m okay at all times, otherwise their fears and worries might devour them and send them back to the dark place we were all in three years ago.

It's her decision to make Ace her newest project that starts them on a crazy, whirlwind relationship that will have you wide-eyed at her audacity on more than on occasion. Their first brunch?? The poor boy didn't know what hit him. He was confused, frazzled, and had no idea how to take this southern hurricane with the impeccable manners.

For the greater good of womankind, Bryant makes it her mission to take on a guy she deems struggling and turn him into the perfect boyfriend material. Not for herself of course, but for others willing to reap the spoils of her hard work. I'm not going to lie, I had a fear in the beginning that after Ace started falling for her, her fake relationship goals would blow up in her face later. Thankfully, there was no drama connected to that. Actually, it resolved from a much different angle than I had anticipated. And I mean that in the best way.

In the beginning of the book, Bryant plainly holds the power. She's steering Ace where her vision for him will reach its end goal. But after a few highly provocative and passionate encounters with him, she's left shaken and unsteady. He grows in confidence as hers slips away, and this power struggle was absolutely necessary in my opinion. He helps her look inside herself, to see all the fears she was trying to suppress and makes her face them. In the end, they both grew and matured. Became more confident, strong individuals who fit each other more flawlessly than I ever would have imagined.

Once upon a time, I probably would’ve been a man who’d hurt her, but not anymore. Now I’m the one who’s going to love her.

I'll be the first person to admit that I had serious doubts as to whether or not I could ever like this hero, let alone love him. He didn't magically get a personality transplant overnight that's for sure. Or at all, and that's what I really appreciated. His transformation was gradual and very naturalistic. And even when he became a better man, he still retained some of his rough tendencies. But he was also caring, strong, determined, and protective towards her. If you have your doubts, cast them aside and give this a shot. I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised.

I had no idea I'd fall in love here at Southern. I hadn't come looking for it, that's for damn sure. But I don't regret it. All of the acts of my past—both good and bad—led me to her.


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